Grave Things Like Love

Delacorte. Oct. 2022. 352p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593703557.
Gr 9 Up–Elaine (better known as Lainey) wishes she didn’t have to spend so much time helping with her family’s business, but with the competing funeral home’s excellent social media and marketing skills, she’s needed more than ever. Being a superfan of the TV show Dragonfly with her best friend Miles has been her go-to hobby for a long time, but when Xander, the cute new boy with an interest in ghost hunting, wants to investigate her family’s home (they live at the funeral home), things start to get a little more complicated. Even the most responsible teenager occasionally feels the pressure of expectations and obligations, and Lainey’s decisions and struggles clearly reflect the conflict she feels about wanting distance from the family she loves deeply. The macabre setting and subject create an intriguing contrast with the light, sometimes irreverent tone, and Lainey is a believable character whose competence and dependability, coupled with her impulsive decision-making and frustration with her family’s requirements, are relatable. Minimal character development of both love interests leads to lukewarm romance, and an overabundance of storylines without clear execution crowd out the plot. Commentary on privilege and mental health is somewhat heavy-handed and seems like an afterthought.
VERDICT Recommended for large collections where love triangles are popular.

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